Brothers Neal and Alan Morse founded Spock's Beard back in 1992. The name started as a joke suggestion for a band name based on a Star Trek episode where Spock has a beard (for fan-boys the episode was Mirror, Mirror from the second series episode 33). The name stuck, but happily they take their music more seriously.
The classic line up changed when Neal left in 2002 to forge a solo career and the band faced another evolution in 2013 when Ted Leonard stepped up to vocal duties. Purists criticised the bands change in sound which lent towards prog pop, replete with bold choruses and abundant melodies.The oblivion particle, the bands 12th studio album cements their relationship with both camps. Leonard's melodic vocals soar above a futuristic dream-scape of progressive orchestrations and counterpart harmonies which offers more than enough to keep everyone satisfied.
From the thunderous opening bars of Tides of Timethrough to the impish staccato instrumental sections which follow, we are submerged into 66 minutes of space voyage, time travel and the search for the meaning of our our existence. Whilst The Oblivion Particle is not a concept album as such it plays with these Neptunian qualities and demands the listener enter another world.
Minion, no not those despicable yellow critters, displays some powerful harmonies and terrific keys Ryo Okumoto. And just like the songs yellow namesakes you are never quite sure what the band are going to do next. Hell's Not Enoughopens with a Baroque sound, almost like an Elizabethan dance tune. This refrain slots into the pop rock chorus with seamless ease.
Bennett Built A Time Machineis pure musical sci fi genius in under 7 minutes. The track adds some subtle mandolin to create a jangling drive throughout. Our Hero, Bennett, has a quest to go back to 1983 and rectify his choices. The middle section has echoes of Iron Maiden's Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son as it sets up the mystical approach to the whirring of the time machine as it embarks on it's voyage. We can literally hear the machine grind and pulsate through the time vortex. Once the mandolins emerge again, we know that Bennett has reached his destination and we cannot help feel a heart warming sense of pride for our hero with whom we have shared this voyage.
Centre Line returns to that neo classical feel with an impressive piano opening followed by avant garde percussion. The vocal section however is fairly standard, but musically the track impresses for its epic contrast to Bennett. Likewise A Better Way To Fly has the dark atmospherics of a horror soundtrack and shows the texture of the bands work. To Be Free AgainandDisappearreturn the band to their prog roots with a wide canvas of solid musicianship and soft rock vocals.
Needless to say this album should be enough to blow the misconceptions of the naysayers into oblivion.